A1 Journal article (refereed)
Teacher Agency and Futures Thinking (2022)

Varpanen, J., Laherto, A., Hilppö, J., & Ukkonen-Mikkola, T. (2022). Teacher Agency and Futures Thinking. Education Sciences, 12, Article 177. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12030177

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Varpanen, Jan; Laherto, Antti; Hilppö, Jaakko; Ukkonen-Mikkola, Tuulikki

Journal or series: Education Sciences

eISSN: 2227-7102

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 03/03/2022

Volume: 12

Article number: 177

Publisher: MDPI AG

Publication country: Switzerland

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12030177

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/80119

Additional information: This article belongs to the Special Issue Studies in Teacher Identity and Professional Development.


Problems encountered in top-down school reforms have repeatedly highlighted the significance of teachers’ agency in educational change. At the same time, temporality has been identified as a key element in teachers’ agency, with teachers’ beliefs about the future and experiences of the past shaping their agentic orientations. However, research on teachers’ future orientations is typically limited to short-term trajectories, as opposed to long-term visions of education. To address this, we draw on a futures studies perspective to give more explicit attention to teachers’ long-term visions of their work. We argue that the method of future narratives, already well-established in the field of futures studies, is a fruitful methodological framework for studying these long-term visions. In this paper, we first show that the futures studies approach is theoretically compatible with the ecological model of teacher agency. We then outline the method of future narratives to point out the possibilities it offers. Finally, we illustrate our approach with an exploratory analysis of a small set of future narratives where teachers imagine a future workday. Our analysis reveals that the narratives offer a rich view of teachers’ longer-term visions of education, including instances of reflecting on the role of education in relation to broader societal developments. Our study suggests that this novel approach can provide tools for research on teacher agency as well as practical development of teacher education, addressing long-term educational issues and policies.

Keywords: teachers; teacherhood; human agency; education and training; teacher training; professional development; change; reforms; future; futures research

Free keywords: educational change; educational reform; chronotope; futures thinking; images of the future; narrative inquiry; professional agency; teacher agency

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 13:59